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Gary Gallagher Education. (2008) Gary Gallagher.

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Sloan 20, Durant 18, Billy 14, Billy Durant 13, Alfred Sloan 9, Henry Ford 8, Detroit 7, America 6, Alfred 5, Europe 4, Vietnam 4, Wheeler 4, Marjorie 3, U.s. 3, Hollywood 3, United States 2, New York 2, Oakland 2, Michigan 2, Jack Smith 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Gary Gallagher   
   Education.  (2008) Gary Gallagher.  

    September 16, 2012
    6:00 - 7:00pm EDT  

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this reporting process has really reinforced to me is the strong fraternity and the power that this school has had. it's got one of the highest levels of giving which, um, is amazing, especially for people at canadian university. we just don't give. we're like, the government will do it. [laughter] but holy cross, um, when i look, when i look at the networks that have been formed, the friendships, the power of the cross as they call it and the way that people support each other and love each other across the generations, i think it's very inspiring, and it's also, to me, a testament of how leadership really happens in this country and happens everywhere else, and i think the support and the love that people have shown for father brooks through this process, that they've shown for these men and an appreciation for how difficult it was to be pioneers on that campus, um, i hope is a story that we will continue to come back to again and again.
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.. general motors was found on tataris 16th, 1908. it's about an hour. >> good afternoon. my name is william pelfrey, and my book is billy welford and
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general motors the story of two unique man at a legendary company and remarkable time of american history. before we start this afternoon, i want to emphasize that i especially honored to be talking about my book care of the renaissance center general motors headquarters especially in light of the headlines that everyone is reading across the country today. when i started this book more than two years ago, i had no idea that the timing would be such that it is. before i begin my but also like to thank a few people that made this event possible. c-span and book tv, of course, but also birth of pruitt at borders bookstore here in the renaissance center, adrienne hecky, i dream coming into the rest of the team at amicom books. christine durham, the manager here of the renaissance center,
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and finally come ed snider and john mcdonald of general motors corporate communications who facilitate of all of the audio and visual set up. as background i but also like to give just a brief summary of my own riding writing credentials. i started writing as a soldier infantryman with a rifle company and a heavy order platoon in vietnam. when i came back to the world i wrote the first vietnam lawful posted by a and infantrymen which was nominated for the national book award and the national endowment for the arts fellowship. from there, i began writing about vietnam and south asia for "the new york times," the atlantic monthly and the new republic. from there somehow ended up in the foreign service and was at the embassy is in pakistan and venezuela come and then did another vietnam novel called
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hamburger hill in conjunction with a film of the same name. but as they say all roads lead to the trade and i ended up to joining general motors in 1987 and was soon writing speeches for jack smith who became ceo in 1992 and for john became the chairman of the board of the same year. i left general motors to return to my own riding full-time just about four years ago when jack smith retired, and ever since then i have been more less consumed by this latest book. you can ask my wife who i am proud to have with me today. with that background as preface what i would like to do today is offer a few comments on how billy alfred and general motors came to be and then an excerpt about the characters incredible legacy is coming and those legacies are timely year than ever today. to set the stage for questions.
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first, why i wrote the book. by the way, when i started doing the research three years ago, i had no idea how timely it would be, but i also had a full head of dark hair and my wife can also attest to. what really intrigued me at first is the dearth of knowledge and information about the men at the center of the story, the portraits on the cover. billy durant and alfred sloan. billy durant was the founder of general motors and created single-handed against all and in defiance of the community especially the house of morgan. the and unlikely character you can not dream up in hollywood. the son of an alcoholic father, raised by a single mother when single mothers were shunned and a high school dropout. by that time he was 21, he was
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the highest volume cigar salesman in the state of michigan. before he was 40 come he was the world's biggest manufacturer and seller of the horse-drawn wagons and carriages. never content to rest on his morals always looking for the next new thing he took over the management of the struggling car company called buick motors in the year 1904. durant had absolutely no background in automobiles and knew nothing about how they worked and how to build them in volume. but within three years, buick was the number one selling car in america. from there, he went on to create general motors only to lose control of its not once but twice. and when alfred sloan and terse the picture the drama intensifies. billy actually hired alfred a. 1916 when he bought a company called roller bearing that he had taken charge of 15 years
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earlier. he hired alfred because he knew a good manager when he saw one and he also happened to know sloan was afraid his largest customer named henry ford was about to take the business in house and leave sloan high and dry with the production capacity. that was arguably the most hiring decision of the 20th century. but the end of approaching from the sidelines as sloan transformed it into america's industrial icon. sloan was durant's opposite in all respects, masai say the to precise. they were like oil and water. they were at odds over how they were managing all of the companies he brought in to general motors. his frenetic style and failure to establish the central control drove him absolutely at the wall. in fact, slow and actually
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prepared his resignation for general motives and accepted the job offer when push came to shove in the showdown in 1920, billy was out the door and up the street while alfred tore up his resignation and soon took the command. that is just a two-minute synopsis of the story. in the history of business or for that reason the human species. a few years ago they made a movie about howard hughes, the aviator built on his obsessive compulsive tendencies. compared to billy durant, howard was love middle class and ebenezer scrooge was a wild man compared to alfred sloan and yet the story has remained unknown outside of a small circle of karnack and historians while the name henry ford is almost been canonized in popular legend. by the way, billy actually came
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close to buying the ford motor company on two different occasions only to have a by henry himself the last minute. it's all the kind of material no screenwriter could invent but the story has never been told in a single narrative. the original general motors building here in detroit is one of the state leased buildings i've ever been in. in fact it was the largest office building in the world and its designated as the national historic landmark. as with many landmarks there's also a legend behind that building. general motors the longer occupies the site, but if you go there today and bring a pair of binoculars you can still see the letter d carved into the corners of each corner above the 15th floor. the building was originally going to be named the durant
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building in honor of the company's founder. they had already cut the letter d into the corners when he was thrown out of the company he created. when the building was finished was called the general motors building, but nobody got around to removing it. the legend of course is that the letter d was billy's way of getting back to the management team that threw him out, all of whom had been brought into general motors. the point of the story is even though they lot of people here in detroit know about the letter d, i always found that not many people seem to know or care about how and why billy disappeared from the scene. in fact there's virtually no material on durant in the company archives. it's as if he had come and gone without really having done much to read when you would ask people what out durant you usually hear that he was a wheeler and dealer, gambler and poor manager but not much more.
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even more surprising, when you ask about alfred sloan command succeeded speed and turned the company around, it wasn't that different. a lot of people could recite his famous business strategy is to centralize operations and coordinated control bill would change the game for all competitors but again if you look in the archives you could find hardly anything about sloan the man. the legend and of course it was just the way that he wanted. what i found when i started researching what in the up being this book mainly in durant's personal papers and dozens of out of print manuscript in the books written in the 1920's.
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there were further than the wheeler and dealer and he was less than the gene yes. the more obvious it was that you could never tell the story of billy and alfred without telling the story of their peers all of whom as it turned out or just as strong willed and fascinating in their own ways as durant and slow in and their destiny tied to the interactions that they had with billy and alfred. the men like david to make that invented the process for bonding porcelain to metal that made the plumbing fixtures possible and then went on to create a buick motor to lose control of it within a year billy within the dying in the board of the traits harper hospital. then like henry the master of the precision manufacturing who took over a company that had been started by henry ford,
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renamed it cadillac and then sold to general motors only to have a falling out and then started getting another company called lamken only to watch it go bankrupt by his original nemesis henry ford. the list of characters kept growing and it's even more complex in the social change that shaped each man not to mention general motors. the further i got from one fred to tie it all together in a single compelling narrative. as i mentioned before, i started digging and i had a lot more hair and with a lot darker. i found dozens of books and articles about all the characters written by the people that were there but in the 1920's and 30's, and guess what, they were all as dirt, none of
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them captured the character and the passion of these amazing men. so the challenge of the conundrum is how to bring it together and to do justice for them all. and then, i picked up an excellent book or a helen brandt's sea biscuit about the legendary racehorse. you might not think of a connection between sea biscuit and general motors, and i didn't either until a further -- until i read the first chapter, which talked about charles howard on the west coast in the 1930's. the story of how general motors' founder and successor to get from obscurities to the world's largest enterprise was much like the story of sea biscuit the unlikely horses. sea biscuit rose from nowhere to capture america's imagination in
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the race against the war might get a marble, the disputed champion of the day. but general motors did the same thing against ford motor. general motors was sea biscuit, durant and sloan with the oil and water trainer. ford motor was more admiral and henry ford was even more unpredictable owner and trainer. by the way, the race between general motors and ford motor did indeed capture the imagination in the 20's. there were stories every week in every newspaper across the country about how sloan and four were going neck-and-neck and they were profiled in the new york daily news the way fox is profiled in today's sports tabloids. so with that string of the horse race the took command and started molding itself into what became the book. and what i found is that uniquely american story.
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victory and defeat, stumbles and comebacks, and tragedies. today the story of the way they put general motors together and made it grow as timely as it is dramatic that he and the entire u.s. auto industry in the midst of an unprecedented restructuring or still dealing with the consequences of what these two giants want for the auto industry in america. that is a short version of how i came to write the book. i'd like to read one passage from the end of story, the human side of the story about what happened to billy after he was forced out of general motors the last time in 1920. although it's sad and even tragic keep in mind a billy himself remained the eternal optimist through it all.
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always looking for that next deal, always confident he would put off. the story is quite the opposite of course an insurer we will get into that in more detail in the question and answer session. while alfred sloan jr. transform gen general motors and the icon of efficiency and success, his new dreams ended hollow. in september 1938 he stood up the door of the estate on the jersey shore who were carried away still pursuing their dreams and schemes that were from mining to toothpaste, razor stand beer he borrowed $30,000 from the then wealthiest man in michigan thanks to his original partnership with billy durant, and $20,000 from alfred sloan cony there was ever repaid.
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in january, 1940, sloan finally reestablished the personal contact inviting him to attend the deep fritz celebration of general motors 25 million vehicles rolling off the assembly line. billy sat at the table, and sloan led him by the hand to introduce him to the executive sand and dealers. a was billy's last appearance at the institution that he had created singlehandedly and against all odds. when the portions of the men more adventures of the white collar man were excerpted in the saturday evening post he wrote alfred a letter thanking him for what he called the handsome complement's in the article. fittingly, the letter also included a reminder that there was more to success than the science of management. this was billy the high school dropout fighting to alfred sloan
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right into the phi beta kappa. i do wish that you had known me when we were laying the foundation in speed and action seemed necessary. you're absolutely right in your statement that general motors justified a different the fed of channelling after the units were enlisted and you with your training and experience some of it yourself with reliable sound judgment and a vision and devotion to the cause which is enabled you to build the general motors of today is truly great institution. but to sum up the early history of general motors reminds me of the following story from the civil war. the general wheeler who came up from the ranks led major bloomfield at the battlefield of chattanooga. and speaking at the engagement, the general said right up on that hill is where the company
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of infantry captured the calvary general unit couldn't be. the infantry cannot capture the calgary to which the general replied but, you see, this infantry captain did not have the disadvantage of the west point education, and he didn't know he couldn't do it, so he just went ahead and did it any way. [laughter] that was billy durant. sloan had a letter typed on general motors stationery that focused on his own reasons for writing his book and made no direct reference to anything in durant's letter. that exchange of letters was the last known direct contact between the former colleagues. while catherine remand lovingly at her husband's side through
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all the triumphs and tragedies, they had no children of their own. after the crash of 1929 they had less contact with his daughter marjorie and their son from billy's first marriage. cliff who gained fame as a california playboy and race driver with no steady job died of a heart attack in 193710 years before his father. ironically, his first ex-wife led to the legendary after divorcing cliff quietly began sending them money to help with their living expenses. the money came from a trust fund that billy set up for her as a wedding gift when she married. the daughter marjorie who'd gone through three divorces and struggled to maintain the image and lifestyle of the debutante
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drifted into drugs after her father's fall from wall street. just five months after his death in march of 1947, marjorie was for buying and selling illegal narcotics. the story was reported in the new york daily news on september september 16th, 1947. for 39 years to the day after million greeted general motors. mercifully her story to read it from the press after that had lined along with her father's legacy. not until august, 1958 during general motors 50th anniversary did believe received public recognition for the greatest and the most improbable of all gimble's and achievements the founding of what had become the world's largest industrial enterprise. rather than a plaque or statute
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billy's marker is an inconspicuous 10-foot square slab of granite big enough to use for a stage rising just to feed off of the ground in a park in flint michigan. the onetime protege and employees who'd taken for the leadership alfred p. sloan jr. was retired and sitting on the general motors board of directors of the time. sloan didn't attend the ceremony or the immigration however. the marble slab was laid by flinched rather than general motors durant memorial sits in the middle of the cultural center opposite of the entrance to the alfred sloan museum also built by the city if went better than general motors. today despite the name, the cultural center is dominated by empty parking lots and the weeds surrounding them. there are two flagpoles the top of the platform but most days by
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flags flying. the polls are scratched with graffiti and the grass is packed with weeds. most passers-by do not seem to notice the platform itself. they're mainly schoolchildren on bus excursions redican curious pilgrims eager to soak in the culture. in the end, he plays of the way the american dream itself please out in today's media culture. perfectly sculpted for 15 minutes of fame. his life in contrast remains shrouded beneath the veil of the unrivaled success of both men's passion general motors. as his name disappeared from the business world, his general motors continues to set the standard and raise the benchmark for the rest of the automobile industry and indeed all business until his death in 1966.
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today the debate continues about whether many large companies including general motors stuck with his original organizational management paradigms' for too long in the face of competition from beyond the united states. well the lessons learned -- well the lessons learned from how he it up to that general motors to the changing environment especially in the aftermath of 1920 be heated by a different generation of managers and executives. what ever be possible for any large enterprise to achieve the kind of turnaround he accomplished and then continue to grow for some years? the answers to such questions grow more complex as the change and reaction accelerates. of the legacies and adolescence brought for the world grew all the more relevant to those who would be players.
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with that i will be glad to take questions. i'm told that because of the sound system we have you should wait until the microphone reaches you can't stand up before asking a question. >> in the front row. >> great book, mr. pelfrey. one question i have listed in irony. i noticed in your book you say that general motors was a top seller of the vehicles in japan prior to world war ii and there's the irony. what happened there? >> that's absolutely true and another story hollywood couldn't have scripted. general motors dominated the automobile market in japan right up until pearl harbor. in fact general motors had emerged to lead to a larger market share in japan than in
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the industry throughout the 1930's. then after world war ii, you can trace the roots of many of the challenges the u.s. industry faced to the man and douglas macarthur, general of the army. he was put in charge of reconstruction in japan and one of his first decisions and was made by him alone is that no u.s. automobile manufacturer would be allowed to re-enter the japanese market. hard to believe that the japanese would rebuild the economy by its own bootstraps needless to say no one envisioned that bootstrap economy would become. the japanese in fact studied his business strategies and henry ford's pattern of that production and as we ll had the advantage of what macarthur had brought, namely a government
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that was nurturing the industry and in fact developing the industry almost exclusively for export rather than the market. you look at europe after world war ii it was exactly the opposite situation. general motors hint of any stronger competitor has had ford motor company before the war but after the war with germany in such ravens and general motors decided it wouldn't re-enter the european markets stockley for business reasons they didn't see the market coming back for many years if ever. but alfred received a phone call from mcarthur's counterpart lucius clay in charge of reconstruction, and clay almost literally begged him to bring general motors back into europe for patriotic reasons.
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he was afraid that if general motors did not establish a presence no other industrial companies what. and that if general motors did re-enter the market with its prestige and image it would bring the others behind. so, despite the advice of his own management team that said this is a bad business decision, he did re-enter europe and still is a leader in europe today. in the opposite of the situation in japan. that's why i say the whole story is -- hollywood couldn't have written it. it's full of twists and turns and characters like that. >> it's a great book by the way. there is a line in here i am almost done reading it. there is a line where you were talking about the second ouster left billy durant since the day they were gone the manager had
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gone which style of leadership works best in today's world durant or sloan's? >> in that passage, billy durant in a sense it really was the dawn of the new era. the auto industry had an created by men who had no business background at all. they were inventors and dreamers the industry by 1920 had grown beyond, and alfred sloan the transformation he created in general motors putting his famous business strategy of the decentralized operations and a centralized control marked the end of today when one man alone
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like billy durant could pull off a deal or come up with the new car brand durant was the epitome of the intuitive salesman visionary who would see an idea, see an opportunity and go with that, period. sloan was the opposite. he was the ultimate organization man. what decisions are made by committees rather than one man up in flint, and of the world would never be the same. that's the kind of transition i was referring to. to give you one example of the difference between the pioneer one-man a loan style of durant and sloan's concept of corporate management. in 1908, shortly after creating general motors with buick as the
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cornerstone, he acquired a company called oldsmobile. oldsmobile had actually built the first mass-produced car in america and dominated the market for about four years. because it had fallen on hard times when he bought it. they needed a new car. in fact one of the jokes of the time is that billy paid a bunch of money for the billboards. oldsmobile was the first company to do billboard advertising and the song back then was actually the most popular song in america. but he knew that the oldsmobile team was demoralized. they were losing money. they had just been bought by a man none of them knew so what did he do? billy the salesman? he dropped in on the entire
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management team in lansing michigan unannounced and said don't worry we are meant to come up with a car and we are going to succeed. then unbeknownst to anyone, he raised his hand and three colleagues entered the room with the body of a buick, just the body of a buick ten. he and arranged to have it shipped to lansing the day before and he should the body to the engineers and managers and still didn't know what was going on. then he said this anybody have a crosscut saw. people came up with a crosscut saw and he said okay here's how we will create a new oldsmobile and he asked one of his colleagues to proceed to cut the body of the buick into quarters not unlike solomon cutting the baby in half. he extended each quarter of the body about 6 inches so you have
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a longer and wider design. he said that's your new oldsmobile. they proceeded to build the oldsmobile from the buick parts. the first time that had ever been done in the industry and by 1980 was standard practice throughout the industry. needless to say, within days, probably within minutes he had the oldsmobile team pumped into the car came to market in less than a year and indeed oldsmobile was profitable again. a similar situation. in 1926 under alfred sloan. alfred had created the famous price with chevrolet covering the bottom of the market and a cadillac at the high end. one of the car division's that he brought into general motors oakland was the weak sister of the five.
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he knew they needed something directly above the chevrolet and oldsmobile and oakland wasn't cutting it. rather than the belly durant approach one man coming up with an idea the form the study committee's for about a year finally decided to do it and came up with a new engine and the was the key. the most powerful six-cylinder engine and that ended the market. but to build the car without giving durant any credit the today page from the book and used this chevrolet parts to build a pontiac and was in the market on the record time and was in the media -- an immediate hit the same basic decision but entirely different way of
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arriving. today i would compare the two styles with the two guys that created google. those are clearly the billy durant characters. sloan i think the closest quote what the bill gates. bill gates and steve arguably created the pc market but of course they had a falling out but they had a very different approach in business. steve remains much in the school when he comes up with an idea he goes for it no matter what the ipod being the latest example. bill gates has said many times that he is a student and an admirer of the school of management. the trick of course is to get both of those styles in juan company and even tougher in one of leader much easier said than done which makes business today
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much the same kind of horse race you had when i was talking about sea biscuit and the admiral. >> as you were going through your research was their anything that surprised you that i didn't know that and put it all together in context is awesome but is their anything the was shocking to you? >> there are many surprises and the more surprises you get, the more you get down by the research and create your own problems and how to put it altogether. but the most surprising thing to me was all of the business contributions. as i said in my remarks, most people who even know about him in the trade picture him as a salesman and a wheeler and dealer but in fact he is responsible for many firsts not
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only in the auto industry that the business in general. i mentioned the idea of the components for different products that started with billy. the assembly line started with billy and his lieutenant charles nash when they were building thernstrom carriages. henry ford gets a lot of credit from the assembly line. he naturally mechanized the assembly line which is certainly a milestone in the industry. but durant was built and wagons on the family out in flint. the difference was the people moved rather than the parts on the line. just one more on known contribution is the idea of the retail finance. billy durant and his financial lead advisor actually the treasurer of the company and other colorful character in 1919 created a company called gm the
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ec which has certainly been making its own head winds in the last few months. before gmac if you want to buy an automobile come to either came into the showroom with cash or got a bank loan on your own and most banks wouldn't lend money for an automobile. his idea was why don't we finance the purchase of the vehicle and make it easier for the customer clicks it not only revolutionized the way automobiles were sold but all kinds of big ticket items as special the household appliances. again that was set buy billy durant, and there are several others. again, it's a fascinating story. one story i haven't told about durant, and it's made me think since the book has been finished. the first person to lead the advance galleys of the book before it was published was a
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man named david cole who was the most respected analyst in the world. while he was reading that he called me several times to give me feedback and when he finished we got together for lunch in the end of the talking for about three hours about durant and sloan and what's happening at general motors today. but one of the first things he said was, you know, looking at everything that durant did, the way that he would start companies he becomes a little be assessed with the idea of the deal and failed to manage them the sloan. i think that bill lee durant probably had attention deficit deficiency before anybody knew about it and that really made me think. if you accept that even as a possibility, just think.
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i mentioned the story what durant had to overcome in his own mind to accomplish as much as he did, it is an incredible story. he's an incredible man. just think what he might have done if indeed he had a.d.d.. who knows, it might have been a story of triumph to triumph rather than a triumph to tragedy. it is a fascinating human story for me coming and that is why i could not -- i had to write the book. >> any more questions? >> two questions. one, in your research sloan seems to become a mysterious character. what do you think drove him to
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achieve what he did and second sloan sogegian today what he viewed the situation and not necessarily the revenue, but what would you think his assessment of the major problem sar? >> the first question, general motors clearly was his life. he was married, had no children, very deliberately kept his own name out of the headlines. in fact he created the general motors' department in the 1920's so that he would not have to deal with reporters. and he insisted from his department that his name was never mentioned in the stories. it was always general motors. in his second book my years in general motors it is a fourth injured 72 page book.
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there is less than one page devoted to his own life and he only talks about his mother and father and his brother the company works its life. there were all kind of jokes about how obsessed he was with the company to be yet he was known inside of general motors as a silent sloan. when he spoke, people listen though. there is only one recorded instance of him ever doing a transaction not directly related to general motors. he has no known hobbies all the way suspected he wrote a lot of books. his friends convinced him that he needed something for leisure and in the late 1920's he decided to buy a yacht. he paid a million dollars for the boat and it has a full-time crew of of people the cost $120,000 a year, but in this
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case he got bored with the boat very quickly and he only took it on a few cruises and he ended up selling it for $175. i suspected the only loss that he ever took in his life. [laughter] the second question one thing i learned in the research of all of those characters and how will kept changing even in the 20's and of the 30's you cannot judge a man outside of the context of his times. i think it is safe to say that he would be proud of the general motors is still here. not many companies have survived that long especially especially about the core business. general motors has been building one product really the bottom
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automobile. you didn't ask the question this way but i will go out on a limb and maybe get myself in trouble with a few friends in the media, but i've been in trouble before. when i look at the situation today at general motors and the way that it's been covered especially deutsch written the last few months, the parallels to the 1920's in particular are many. but he had the advantage of arguably taking a much wasted situation to a general motors was really on the ropes in the excess capacity of the lawsuit indebted -- the company capitalized at a billion dollars all through the issuance of
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stock. there was so much debt that nobody really knew how much there was. but sloan had the advantage of being able to move in and operate in a business environment as opposed to today's media culture and come and i've talked to several friends in the media who said they will even admit that the business has changed in many ways not unlike the automobile business the competition is incredible especially with the cable news network's and local television. the pressure is always there to have a story. and i hate to say it but in some cases that is almost close to creating the story. reporters know that they are under pressure to do it and i truly think that in some cases they don't feel good about it.
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one example for the season audience just a week ago common more than a week ago all of a sudden someone started a rumor in detroit in the general motors is a to be firing salary people like it never has before. some of the speculation was even that they are going to let go of the salaried work force. before you know what this is the only story on the news in detroit especially at the television stations. they were talking about black tuesday, people being told that to bring their laptops and the key to their office general motors rose reserving conference rooms and of rebuilding of the company to let people know that they were going to be out the door on him and guess what, tuesday morning rolls around and that with fewer than 500 people were let go. that is a lot of people buy a lot of standards. but a lot companies.
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ibm in particular has a lot more people than that. and you haven't had that kind of frenzy in the media. and you just imagine what that kind of reporting does to the people who are affected. i can't imagine having the employee with all of that speculation going on and in the and it was nothing but speculation has has been in my opinion a lot of stories even in the national media. i wrote for "the new york times" for awhile and my editor was in man delete command legend i guarantee you. it wasn't that long ago the speculation that's all i will say that the news media.
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and see what kind of reviews i get now. [laughter] >> you talk about oil and vinegar between the men and then you also talked about other pioneers and their stories and the conflicting stories. do you have a couple of specifics to raise the would be fun to your? >> that that immediately comes to mind is henry leland command again, hollywood couldn't have written it. henry lee wind was like durant, a child of the civil war although he was older than sloan. he was too young to enlist in the army that his brother did and his brother was killed, and in his own legend s he's told that he never got over that and he considered himself a patriot above all else. in fact, he was one of the most
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highly skilled machinists of the day in the civil war and he decided to shift jobs to the machine rifles rather than the engines that he preferred. but after the civil war she started a machine shop and moved to decollate and immediately had a deputation as the most precise machinist around. he started oldsmobile when he had his first car he immediately went to leland to build the engines because of his reputation for precision and quality. well, he not only build the engine for that car which was a hint, he went one step further and built another engine on his own much more powerful and efficient because then he said forget it i'm not one to retool my plant just because you have a
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better engine read we are doing fine, thank you. will that he was in the tank and leland said okay so he turned around and went to the backers of another dalia in detroit named henry ford. ford had already managed to alienate one group of financial backers with his first company called the detroit automobile company. it's failed his reputation was bad as a businessman and he got another group of backers led by the nature of detroit who happened to be the wealthiest man in the detroit. they that ford on the premise that ford would come up the car that could be built in volume and make money. ford didn't think that there was
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much urgency making money with the car. he kept trying to perfect it to the point the word got out that the backers were getting fed up. leland heard about it and went to ford's backers and they were immediately impressed with his engine and on the spot the said jordan and henry is out. they gave him $900 the rights to proceed with a race car that he was developing which is another story. but leland immediately renamed the company cadillac motors in honor of the founder of detroit who happened to be the 200th anniversary year of the dietrich founding. leland made cadillac a success on the basis of the fun of obsession with precision and quality. when bill leach created a general motors, he wanted cadillac for those reasons.
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he went to leland three times and made him an offer and each time the at the mt and each time insist on cash each time durant and his papers claimed leland was grindle up the price of the last minute. a long story short, he finally did bring cadillac into general motors in 1909 but part of the deal was that he would be allotted to keep running cadillac as an independent company. that was fine because he was focused at the time on the more acquisitions. leland went on to gain a reputation as a hard task master to say the least, very difficult to work for henry ford and the other characters.
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leland announced to the world he was resigning from general motors for patriotic reasons the united states and world war i and april of 1917 started to build with dirty engines -- liberty engines. cadillac told the press -- leland told the press he had to resign from general motors because billy durant it didn't support the effort and he didn't want to divert production to the wartime material. billy durant immediately sent a telegram to leland saying prove to me that you have resigned of your own free will. he said for telegrams and he never replied. finally, again, compare this to today's media culture, finally durant went to the press directly and showed the
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memorandum and the signs resignation that he actually fired leland because he simply haven't followed his orders and wouldn't proceed in to get the catalog with the rest of general motors as the chairman wanted that leland went on to build liberty but the war ended but after that. they've created yet another car company in honor of the civil war the problem was first lincoln was reviewed by the press at the time as a clone of last year's cadillac on the
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market again long story short lincoln motor into that going bankrupt and henry and that up just picture this the guy that forced henry ford out of the second company he ended up going to henry ford begging him to help him out. they finally went bankrupt and was sold at auctions and was only one bid for the assets. henry ford. the did hire him as an employee but needless to say, it was a tense situation. lincoln to this day is under the ford motor umbrella and leland died not in total poverty but far less the man he was an of
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security and 1930's. again, there are so many stories like that coming into the amazing thing is it's been told from the perspective of the human drama of all these guys that's what i wanted to do and the readers can judge how well we did. one more question. >> it's not quite a question, but i have to tell you that when i was at the school, it was a requirement for me to read my years with general motors coming and we were tested on it coming and it was quite boring. and i just wanted to thank you and i hope the students in the future get to read this instead. thank you. >> i actually saw -- writers shouldn't do this but the mention of amazon.com it's almost like a discount i saw
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billy alfred and general motors being offered combined with general motors and you get an even better deal if you by both books. [laughter] any more -- one more question. >> well, congratulations on your success. what is next for bill pelfrey? >> i don't know. as i said, it was two years full-time at the research and the writing, and i know i will write something else but i don't know what at this point. i've fought about two things. some people have tried to get me
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pumped to the history of my unit in the army, the 22nd infantry is one of the most decorated least a glorified units in the army going back to the war of 1812 in the viet nam, and most recently they were the unit to capture saddam hussein, but i don't know at this point. another story that i'm closer to, and i don't know but a dear friend of mine, a writer named harry wrote the first book about appalachia and saw a lot of action in world war ii. his leg nearly shot off. ..

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